CAM Professor Uses Grant Money to Build Music Studio in Youth Shelter
Studio funded from Arts in Society Grant opens October 14.Megan Briggs | College of Arts & Media Oct 6, 2021
When you think of the essential elements for a drop in shelter serving youth experiencing homelessness, a music studio may not be top of mind. But when songwriting professor Owen Kortz of the University of Colorado Denver’s College of Arts & Media (CAM) received an Arts in Society grant in 2020, constructing a music studio for Urban Peak youth shelter was the first thing he thought of. On Thursday, October 14, 2021, Kortz will see the final phase of his Music Studio for Youth Experiencing Homelessness project become reality when the newly constructed music studio opens at Urban Peak’s downtown Denver location.
“Engaging in rapping, singing, or playing an instrument, [the youth] seem to connect with their own voice and creative headspace,” Kortz says. He describes the visitors to the shelter and the music studio being “consistently excited” and “grateful” for the opportunity to use the studio and work on their own music.
Music and Mental Health
While Urban Peak offers more traditional social services to these youth, such as pairing each visitor up with a case worker who can help them navigate government-sponsored services and basic healthcare, providing a functional creative space arguably falls under the category of mental health services. Kortz explains, “music is a cathartic and expressive outlet, and, neurologically, it accesses many different parts of our brains, which is beneficial in mood regulation and creative solution-finding in other contexts.”
Kortz has been working with Urban Peak since 2012 and, thanks to the $30,000 in grant money he was awarded last year, has brought the music studio through three phases of development. The first phase saw the construction of the studio, which included installing a sound-proof window between two vaults that comprise the studio space, installing carpet, and painting. The second phase involved purchasing new equipment such as instruments, microphones, headphones, and recording software. The Oct. 14th Grand Opening event will celebrate the completion of the third phase of the project, which involves funding for a student from CAM to fill the role of Music Studio Manager. This last phase allows the studio to be open to youth an additional 10 hours per week through next summer.
“The youth (ages 15-24) can utilize the music studio to record hip hop tracks, make beats, track vocals or instruments, and jam on guitars, keyboards, or drums,” Kortz explains. It’s a space where they can dream and be creative, which aren’t easy things to do when one is living on the streets.
Urban Peak is 40-bed shelter for youth experiencing homelessness located in the heart of downtown Denver on Stout Street. The October 14th Grand Opening of the Urban Peak Music Studio will include tours of the studio and refreshments for attendees from 9am-noon and live music from 10-11am performed by local hip hop artists 2MX2 and IllSe7en (Michael Acuña) as well as some of the youth who have already benefitted from the studio. Just like the drop-in nature of the shelter, the Grand Opening event is an open house—no registration is needed and everyone is welcome.
Grand Opening Details
October 14, 2021
9am – 12pm
2100 Stout St.
Denver, CO 80205
Open house, no registration required